The Irrawaddy

Myanmar Verifies More Than 1,000 Refugees in Bangladesh for Repatriation

NAYPYITAW — Myanmar will repatriate more than 1,000 Muslim refugees who have fled northern Rakhine State for Bangladesh, Union Immigration and Population Minister U Thein Swe said on Monday.

Bangladesh gave Myanmar a list of just over 8,000 refugees willing to return to Rakhine in February. Myanmar has since verified more than 1,000 of them as former residents and provided their names to Bangladesh; it is still reviewing the rest of the list.

“We have so far verified about 1,100 refugees on the list,” U Thein Swe said in Naypyitaw at the launch of a video on migration in Myanmar.

According to the UN, nearly 700,000 mostly Rohingya Muslims have fled northern Rakhine for Bangladesh since late August, when militant attacks on security posts there triggered a sweeping military clearance operation. Myanmar has denied the figure and said it would only accept refugees who have lived in Myanmar and volunteer to return.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation agreement in January, but none of the refugees has returned to Myanmar to date, U Thein Swe said.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.